Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tomorrow blogs to me

Arianna Huffington in today's Graun describes blogs as the most vital news source in America.

I think she means 'vital' as in 'lively' rather than 'important'; at least I hope so. OK, so blogs have the benefit of immediacy, and don't have to kiss corporate bottom to survive, but that doesn't mean that bloggers are necessarily better equipped with the facts than the foot soldiers of Old Media would be. Anyone who's done any 'real' journalism will tell you that it's much easier to get to talk to people if you can tell them you're from a known news source than if you're just zis guy, y'know (there's a special prize for spotting that reference).

Blogs keep Old Media on its toes and sometimes, as with the Dan Rather debacle they can actually make things happen. But the influence of bloggers even on Rathergate may have been overstated. Their significance can only be measured in terms of the effect they have on the mainstream news sources. In and of themselves, they're still too disparate and uncoordinated, too amateur to actually change things. As I said last week, it still seems that bloggers require validation from the analogue media world in order to be able to say that they've succeeded.

And where do the bloggers get the facts about which they pontificate? With the exception of those who have extremely good inside information (and it would seem that, increasingly, insider bloggers are being squeezed out) they are informed by Old Media. They're digital parasites, or to put a more benevolent spin on things, they're something akin to those strange little birds that peck the crud out of the backs of hippopotami.

And, to add to the media/message confusion, what about blogs published as part of the online facet of analogue media? Can they really be part of Huffington's revolutionary blogverse, seeing as how they're written by the very same journalists that the bloggers seek to usurp. In fact, the only difference between the blogs on the Guardian and Telegraph sites and the 'proper' articles there is that the former are more proactive in welcoming comments, and don't appear to have been subbed. Interestingly, comments on the Graun blogs are pretty much a free-for-all. On the Telegraph, they're moderated.

I've passed my 100th post here, and I realise I've said very little in the last few months about the part of the world where I tend to rest my head. The fact that the clock is set to GMT probably indicates where my real interests lie, although I've recently added some Thailand-specific links in the right-hand column. But there is fun stuff going down in these parts, even though (going back to what I said above) I could just have easily picked it up if I were in London or Nairobi or Peoria. So here are stories from Old Media about naked Chinese wedding photos and the Korean PM pleading guilty to excessive golfing; and here, from the parallel world, the beleaguered Thai PM as you've never seen him before (if, that is, you've ever seen him).

2-1 to analogue. So far.


Robert A. Swipe said...

"Tomorrow b-logs to me..."

Sound you could do with some night nurse, Tim. I'll send one round immediately. Rubber OK?

Love on ya,


p.s. I resent the accusation in your article that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about when I blog. It may be true, but that doesn't stop me from resenting it....now, if you'll excuse me, I have a water buffalo waiting...

Tim Footman said...

Ah, but the difference between bloggers and 'real' hacks is often not what they know, but who they know. Their response to an event may be exactly the same, except that the hack gets to include a quote from an unidentified government source which (allegedly) makes it a better story.

Bob is an exception to this rule, as he is on intimate terms with the likes of Kim Wilde and Charlotte Church.

And I've just been grooming a dromedary.